Venue: Shinjuku Loft
Location: Tokyo Japan
📝 Pat Says
Well last Thursday after quite some waffling I finally decided to make the small jaunt from Beijing to Tokyo to see the shows, and I must firstly say it was indeed quite an enjoyable time!
Having seen a note from a fellow list member Todd Riddell offering his Tokyo friend's email address, I sent a note to David McIntosh, who, after a bit of a hotmail delay, was kind enough to offer his phone number and some helpful suggestions. Unfortunately for him, David was not able to attend on Saturday night, so having left my very understanding spouse in China, I went it alone. Being my first time in Tokyo (discounting a prior one night airport layover), it was an interesting experience...
After taking the train from Narita airport to Shinjuku and registering at the hotel David had recommended and some preliminary running about, I armed myself with three maps in various languages and scales and commenced the 15 minute trek in the general direction of the club, finding it with only minimal difficulty.
The club is located in an area that could euphemistically be described as... catering to those in need of some stress relief. But please be assured it was very well-lit, well-peopled, fairly clean and without any threatening types roaming about.
The venue is called Shinjuku Loft, and being named such, you might expect it to be on a building's upper level. Good guess, however it is actually level -2, the lowest basement level. I showed up at just after 6:00, opening time and more than a little concerned since I had neglected to bother purchasing an advance ticket. I was then relieved to see that some tickets were still available. Cost was relatively princely, at 6500 Yen. Ouch! Well, a drop in the bucket compared to what I had shelled out for this venture. At least the price included one beverage of my choice.
Walking down the steps to the club entrance, you can see that one side, entered to the right, is basically a small bar with a few tables and chairs; the left entrance yields a cozy room with standing area for about 300, a decent-sized stage (for the purpose), a small bar, and on Saturday night, a girl spinning JBC tunes on two of two turntables. Immediately to the right as you walked in (providing of course, that you actually happened to be there), Vinyl Japan had set up a counter with most of the available JBC CD's, Max's, Dislocation Dance CD's, and... more JBC vinyl than I had ever seen (me having seen only Big Planet Scarey Planet on vinyl before). So, prepare to kick your collective selves, the following were present, and I'm sure I am forgetting some: Scandal in Bohemia, Distressed Gentlefolk, JBC We Love You (?), Bath of Bacon, and more I'm pretty sure. And before you ask, I didn't buy any of it, 'cept for Rotten Soul, and having bought Max's CD at Virgin earlier in the day. Also present were some JBC Japan Tour T-shirts, some JBC buttons and Dislocation Dance T-shirts.
The crowd was... about 97% Japanese (imagine that!), and by 6:30 or so I would say more than 200 were patiently and politely milling about. Pat came out about that time, to little fanfare, and was surrounded by small groups who patiently waited their turn to say hello and to get various items autographed. Pat was extremely gracious, as he always seems to be, and sat on the floor signing records for 10 minutes or so.
Promptly at 7:00 the show began with Max coming out and playing some of his tunes, soon to be joined by Owen on accordion. What can I say? Of course they both did a great job, both seeming pretty relaxed. Sound was really excellent, practically perfect in the small room, and to say you could hear a pin drop directly after and before the tunes would not be understatement.
Max played for about 30 minutes and after a short break, Dislocation Dance came on.
Dislocation Dance is a U.K. group that played together in the early '80's. I was told they had not played together since 1982. Vinyl Japan had re-released their CD('s?) and brought them over from U.K. The band was comprised of your typical pop instrumentation, with a female lead vocalist and a trumpet player. The drummer and trumpet player have been playing together professionally since the early '80's, if not before. Hope my info is correct. Anyway, they were an interesting complement to the JBC, extremely tight, extremely polished, and the trumpet player ad-libbed around their tunes all night (or at least for the 60 minutes they played). As well, they were well-received by the crowd (which included various members of the JBC, from whom I gleaned most of the above info, so speaking of which...)
I was blessed to have been in the company of Max, Owen and Pat at various times during the DD set, as well as Max's sister Ann, and Steve's girlfriend Linda (Steve was running about somewhere but I did not speak with him until Sunday night -- I think). They were all quite down-to-earth, grateful to be in Japan, happy to be there, appeciative of the crowd -- you get the picture (and speaking of which I took about 50 digital photos -- a smattering of which might actually be decent and I'll send to David Whittemore for his posting disgression (okay, David?)).
So, at around 8:45 or so the JBC came on. The playlist was what you have come to expect from this tour. A personal new favorite of mine is now Diamorphine. There was a bit of banter with the crowd, and some banter back, especially from the handful of, I believe, Japan-based Canadians that were jumping about in some contrast to the polite and jumping-about-to-a-lesser-extent Japanese crowd. I adhered myself to the fringe of the westerners group, or perhaps more specifically to Ann, and a good time was had by all. And so I guess I did not make too much of a spectacle of myself since Ann and Linda (and the band) were still speaking to me by the time the Sunday show rolled around. And perhaps I had been the subject of some post-show conversation on Saturday since on Sunday it was known to the band that I indeed trekked over from China (hey, it's only a 3.5 hour flight and I wasn't doing anything else of note last weekend). Pat, whom I had not given my name, came up to me Sunday and said "you must be Ray from China."
As one of the aforementioned Canadians I do remember a hell of a good gig. Japanese audiences are restrained and respectful but don't generally cut loose, so I've always wondered how western performers read their response. The people I talked to/stumbled into during the gig were all enjoying themselves (though not as overtly as we) and doing their best to sing along towards the end (Partytime? I've forgotten). Thanks for posting the pix, it brought back some great memories and filled in some holes. Surprised to see us in a few, too. Ah, Michael's brown shirt...
Cheers and come back to Canada soon,